Port of Karlskrona
Review and History

The Port of Karlskrona is the capital of Blekinge County on Sweden’s southern coast off the Baltic Sea about 50 nautical miles east-northeast of the Port of Ahus. The Port of Karlskrona was created as a naval base on the Baltic, and it has been Sweden’s main naval base since the late 17th Century. UNESCO has recognized the Port of Karlskrona as a World Heritage Site as an excellent example of town planning during the Renaissance.

The fishing harbor in the Port of Karlskrona is one of Sweden’s biggest. The city also contains ship-building and telecommunications industries. In 2005, over 61 thousand people lived in the Port of Karlskrona.

Port History

King Karl XI of Sweden founded the Port of Karlskrona in 1680 as a home for the Royal Swedish Navy. Until that time, the island had been used for farming and grazing. But in those years, Sweden was the major military power in the region of the Baltic Sea, and the island was within short sailing distance to Sweden’s German and Baltic provinces.

In 1689, Sweden suffered heavy naval losses; therefore the shipyard was created at almost the same time as the city. By 1711, the shipyard was the biggest industrial employer in Sweden. Still in use, the oldest dock, the Polhem dock, was cut into the cliff.

By the mid-18th Century, the Port of Karlskrona was one of Sweden’s biggest cities, with about 10 thousand residents. The city was carefully planned, and most of the baroque buildings that were constructed still stand. The city has maintained its original layout and faithfully preserved its architecture. The naval installations were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998.

The Port of Karlskrona’s main square is the second largest in Europe, only after Moscow’s Red Square. Each summer, people gather here and at the harbor for The Sail, a popular festival where sailing boats line up at the pier to be serenaded by the seascouts of Karlskrona carrying torches while playing the national anthem.

While the Port of Karlskrona grew rapidly in the middle 1700s, a devastating fire in 1790 brought an economic slow-down that has continued to the present. The Port of Karlskrona has never regained its former glory, and today its major attraction is the world-famous Royal Naval Yard.

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